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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Academic Competitiveness Grants (ACG) are grants awarded to students who can demonstrate that they completed a rigorous high school program of study before enrolling in college. Eligible students receive up to $750 for their first year of college, and $1,300 for the second year if they also maintain a 3.0 grade point average in college. The grant is awarded to students over and above any other grants or scholarships.

Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.

Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act (ECASLA) is an act signed by President George W. Bush on May 7, 2008, designed to keep college financing channels open for families with college-bound children. It contains a variety of measures to ensure higher education financing is available during the current market conditions. It allows the Department of Education to buy back federal education loans from private lenders. It increases the unsubsidized Stafford Loan limit by $2,000, increases the scope of the Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG) and the National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (SMART), gives parents the option to defer repayment of PLUS loans until six months after the student finishes at least part-time enrollment, expands eligibility for PLUS loans to parents who are delinquent on medical or mortgage payments and allows the Department of Education to designate institutions for Lender of Last Resort (LLR) loans, which increases the ability of individual schools to expand student loan access.

Federal Family Education Loans (FFELs) is a category of loans that includes both the Stafford and Plus federal loan programs.

Federal Pell Grants are examples of financial aid money that a student does not have to repay. Pell grants usually are awarded only to undergraduate students who have not yet earned a bachelor's or professional degree. The amount of the grant to a particular student is determined by the student's financial need, college costs and enrollment status. The maximum available amount of the grant can vary from year to year; for the 2009-10 academic year the maximum possible amount of the Pell grant is $5,350.

Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) is a grant available to low-income, undergraduate students. Priority in awarding these grants is given to students determined to have "exceptional need" - those with the lowest expected family contributions as determined by the FAFSA (see "What's Your Question?: First Aid on Financial Aid"). The amount of FSEOG grants ranges from $100 to $4,000 per academic year.

Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) is a federal loan program that allows parents of dependent undergraduate students to borrow money to cover any expenses related to a student's college attendance. The amount borrowed can be up to the full cost of attendance.

Perkins Loan is a federal loan available to undergraduate students who have extreme financial need at any one of the approximately 1,800 colleges and universities that participate in the Federal Perkins Loan Program. The amount of the loan is limited to $4,000 per academic year.

National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grants (SMART) are grants that can fund up to $4,000 of the third and fourth academic years for college students who show promise in math, physical and life sciences, technology, engineering or foreign language. To qualify for a SMART grant, students must already be a Pell grant recipient and maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average on a full-time degree path in one of the approved majors at an accredited four-year college. In addition, recipients must take courses in their major during each term they are subsidized by the SMART grant.

Stafford Loan (Subsidized) is a federal loan available to students who demonstrate sufficient financial need. The amount available through this program ranges from $2,625 to $18,500 per academic year, depending on factors that include an individual student's financial status and student status (year in school and number of academic years remaining). The federal government pays the interest on these loans while the student is in school and during any grace periods or deferment periods when the student is no longer in school.

Stafford Loan (Unsubsidized) is a federal loan available for which students do not have to demonstrate financial need. Like the subsidized Stafford Loan, the available amount ranges from $2,625 to $18,500. Students obtaining unsubsidized Stafford Loans are responsible for all interest payments during the life of the loan, including interest that accumulates while the student is still in school. If a student chooses not to begin repayment during the time he or she is in school, the interest that accumulates is capitalized - it is added to the principal amount of the loan and will have to be repaid at the higher interest rate.